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All change at Lotto Soudal Ladies as focus switches to young riders

Elise Vander Sande (Lotto Soudal Ladies) races Paris-Roubaix
Elise Vander Sande (Lotto Soudal Ladies) races Paris-Roubaix (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Lotto Soudal confirmed 14 riders for their women's team for 2022, with only three of the current season's squad staying with the Belgian squad.

Anna Plichta, Abby-Mae Parkinson, and Elise Vander Sande are the continuing trio, joined by 11 new faces as the organisation turn their focus to young riders.

"We want to take another direction with the women's team and aim for development of young riders," manager Kurt Van de Wouwer said in a press release. 

"That's what we have been doing, successfully, with the men's U23 team for several years now and that's what we now want to achieve with the women's team as well. That's why we have chosen to become a continental development team. 

"We have Belgian talents in our team, but we also looked across the border. We want to offer the riders a balanced race programme with which they can get a taste of the Classics, but also with races that better match their current capacities. Then I think of the races that are part of the Lotto Cycling Cup for example. We want to offer these riders time to grow and learn, with the professional support of Lotto Soudal."

18-year-olds Marla Sigmund (Germany), Mijntje Geurts (Netherlands) and Ines Van de Paar (Belgium) will debut in the elites on a two-year contract along with 19-year-old Czech rider Kristýna Burlová, Belgian Esmée Gielkens (20) and British rider Josie Knight (24). Other newcomers include Eefje Brandt (19), Katrijn De Clercq (19), Mieke Docx (25), Sterre Vervloet (17) and Kylie Waterreus (23).

"In the future we fully focus on the youth with our women's team. These changes are reflected in the almost entirely new team for next season," Van de Wouwer said.

"Three riders remain in our team. Anna Plichta, who joined our team in 2021 and had a two-year contract, and Abby Mae Parkinson, who starts her third season in our team, are more experienced riders. Elise Vander Sande gets the chance to further develop herself as a rider."

Geurts won the Bizkaikoloreak, a Nations Cup stage race for juniors, this year and joins on a two-year contract. Sigmund, a national champion on the track, will continue to combine disciplines. Knight was part of Great Britain's silver medal-winning team pursuit squad at the Tokyo Olympics and will also combine road and track.

Dirk Onghena, a coach with Belgian Cycling and Cycling Vlaanderen, joins the team as directeur sportif.

Lotto Soudal Ladies for 2022

  • Eefje Brandt (Multum Accountains Ladies Team)
  • Kristýna Burlová (neo)
  • Katrijn De Clercq (neo)
  • Mieke Docx (Doltcini-Van Eyck-Proximus)
  • Mijntje Geurts (neo)
  • Esmée Gielkens (neo)
  • Josie Knight
  • Abby Mae Parkinson
  • Anna Plichta
  • Marla Sigmund (neo)
  • Ines Van de Paar (neo)
  • Elise Vander Sande
  • Sterre Vervloet (neo)
  • Kylie Waterreus (Multum Accountains Ladies Team)

Departures

  • Danique Braam (?)
  • Alana Castrique (Cofidis)
  • Lone Meertens (NXTG)
  • Hanna Nilsson (?)
  • Christina Siggaard (?)
  • Silke Smulders (?)
  • Jesse Vandenbulcke (Drops-Le Col)
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